‘A powerful piece’: Local artist paints mural in South Lake Tahoe

Madison Schultz /
From left to right: Rebecca Bryson, Annie Walker, and Scott Forrest celebrate the 'Sierra Juniper' art mural completed in October 2022.
Madison Schultz/Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe is making proactive strides towards becoming a host for not just year-round outdoor fun, but also become a staple in the basin’s art scene. Sierra Juniper is a new mural that’s being installed in midtown, on what once was the blank, white wall behind Blue Dog Pizza on Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

Annie Walker is the artist behind this mural and submitted a small drawing example to the Tahoe Art League of the piece she had in mind for the blank wall. Shortly thereafter, the Tahoe Art League hired Walker because of her eccentric, unique, and colorful style technique in efforts to bring a new, unconventional style to South Lake Tahoe.

“When I moved here two years ago, I started taking classes at Lake Tahoe Community College to get involved in the local art community,” Walker said. “Shortly thereafter, I applied to this opportunity through the Tahoe Art League, and now I’m super excited to be working on and showcasing this piece.”

Walker’s artistic process is distinctive, as she uses her own grid system with the creative incorporation of shapes, colors, and even animals; as well as utilizes irregular tools through her execution process such as car washing hand mitts.

“My creative process began with creating a grid to scale the art piece to the size of this wall, but not in the way you’d typically think,” Walker said. “I created a grid that works for me, which is a bunch of scribbles to follow the length of the tree branches, the background of the piece, and even the foreground so it was to scale and evenly filled out the entire wall.”

Walker’s grid system to bring ‘Sierra Juniper’ art mural to scale.
Provided / Rebecca Bryson

Sierra Juniper pays homage to the beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin, but the juniper tree means something much deeper to Walker.

“I’ve always been inspired by the juniper trees, they’re some of the oldest trees, and they survive everything,” Walker said. “They’re resilient, and I think it’s powerful to highlight in the local community just for how resilient South Lake Tahoe has been over the past few years.”

Bringing unique art murals such as this to the South Lake Tahoe community has been a longtime goal for the Tahoe Art League. Rebecca Bryson, board president of the Tahoe Art League, reflects on the process of bringing this mural to fruition, and according to her, it’s been a long time coming.

“It’s been difficult to find the perfect spot for this mural, not just finding a wall that worked, but also finding someone that owned the building that would allow us to put this together,” Bryson said. “We are so grateful to Blue Dog Pizza for allowing us to paint this piece here and bring life to the back of the building.”

From left to right: Forrest, Walker, and Bryson celebrate the new art mural in South Lake Tahoe.
Madison Schultz / Tahoe Daily Tribune

In fact, with the tedious effort from the Tahoe Art League on bringing this piece to accomplishment, there has been a lot of community collaboration and local support surrounding this art mural.  

“This [piece] has been a major group effort,” Scott Forrest, board member on the Tahoe Arts Council said. “The city of South Lake Tahoe’s arts commission, the El Dorado Community Foundation, and Tahoe Women’s Community Fund have joined in with the Tahoe Art League to bring the first-ever project that the arts commission has ever gotten approved; so, it’s really a powerful piece and a step in a positive direction for South Lake Tahoe’s art scene.”

Looking forward, the Tahoe Art League and Tahoe Arts Council is optimistic about bringing more of this art throughout the community and making the midtown strip of South Lake Tahoe be better known as the proposed “arts district.”  

“My vision is to have a beautiful gallery of art when driving down Lake Tahoe Boulevard through the main strip of town,” Forrest said. “We’ve been talking about bringing a hopeful arts district to South Lake Tahoe for almost four years now, so I’m optimistic it will come to life with the first piece finally here.”

‘Sierra Juniper’ art mural behind Blue Dog Pizza in midtown South Lake Tahoe.
Madison Schultz / Tahoe Daily Tribune

To celebrate the completion of Sierra Juniper, the Tahoe Art League will be hosting a mural release party on Halloween, from noon-2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31. Costumes are encouraged, and candy and treats will be passed out to both children and adults. Blue Dog Pizza will donate all proceeds from any sales during this time to support future art murals, and cash donations will be matched up to $4,000. Individuals can also donate online.

The Tahoe Art League is the oldest nonprofit in South Lake Tahoe, being just one year older than the city of South Lake Tahoe. To continue to support and grow similar projects in the area, individuals are encouraged to donate as well as support local events that the organization puts together.

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